What Is a VA Loan?
A VA loan is a mortgage loan available through a program established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (previously the Veterans Administration). With VA loans, veterans, service members, and their surviving spouses can purchase homes with little to no down payment and no private mortgage insurance and generally get a competitive interest rate.
- A VA loan is a mortgage offered through a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs program.
- VA loans are available to active and veteran service personnel and their surviving spouses, and are backed by the federal government but issued through private lenders.
- VA loans have generous terms, such as no down payment, no mortgage insurance, and no prepayment penalties.
How a VA Loan Works
VA loans help active service members, veterans, and their surviving spouses become homeowners. They provide up to 100% financing on the value of a home. Eligible borrowers can use a VA loan to purchase or build a home, improve and repair a home, or refinance a mortgage.
The VA sets the qualifying standards, dictates the terms of the mortgages offered, and backs the loan, but doesn’t actually offer the financing. Instead, VA home loans are provided by private lenders, such as banks and mortgage companies.
When borrowers apply for a loan, they need to provide the lender with a certificate of eligibility from the VA. To get the certificate, you’ll have to produce service-related documentation, which can vary based on whether you are active duty or a veteran. The certificate can be obtained from the VA website. Although some of the lender’s own underwriting requirements still must be met, in most cases, VA loans are easier to qualify for than conventional loans.
VA loans, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, and other loans insured by departments of the United States government have securitization through the Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA), also known as Ginnie Mae. These securities carry the guarantee of the U.S. government against default.